When it comes to musical brilliance, Walt Disney was no Quincy Jones. Heck, he was no Grace Jones. But the original Mouseketeer was right about one thing. It is a small world after all. How else to explain a band of Frenchmen calling themselves Phoenix playing a show in Tucson?
But no sooner had Thomas Mars (vocals), Deck d’Arcy (bass), Chris Mazzalai (guitar) and Laurent Brancowitz (guitar) launched their sold out AVA Amphitheater gig with the frenetic – and decidedly non-Parisian – “Entertainment,” than the masses completely forgot about the fact that the foursome records in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
Come to think of it, after assaulting the senses with Brancowitz’ robust solo on “Lasso,” the appreciative crowd didn’t care if the band was from Paris, Idaho – they just wanted more. The band obliged by “slowing things down” for the catchy twosome of “Lisztomania” and “Long Distance Call.”
Of course that was like “bashfully” hitting the crowd with a hydrogen bomb rather than a more “assertive” atom bomb. All of which explains the ballistic light show that kicked off the explosively melodic “Consolation Prizes.”
The show was a coming out party for the band’s stellar new album “Bankrupt.” Along with the set opener and the title tune, Phoenix continued the musical onslaught with six of the other eight songs from the outstanding effort including “S.O.S in Bel Air,” “Don’t” and the desert-appropriate “Trying To Be Cool.”
One of the night’s highlights was d’Arcy’s Brontosaurus-heavy bass line on the ironically titled “Chloroform” from the new record. Mars teasingly sang “Buckle up, we’ll chase each other / It’s not a lot it’s just enough to matter.” How else then could the fearless lead singer follow that up than with a foray into the obliging crowd?
For any of the casual fans in the crowd that were jonesing for a song that they could sing along with, Mars and the band obligingly laid down a tuneful rendition of their biggest hit, “1901.” After the cornucopia of outstanding “Bankrupt!” tunes however, chances are that a year from now we’ll be calling one of the new songs their biggest hit.
Tongue planted firmly in cheek, Steve Martin once humorously declared that the French “have a different word for everything.” But as Phoenix closed the show with “Rome,” there was one distinctly English word that was on the tips of everyone’s tongue – unbelievable.
Here’s the complete set list from the show:
Long Distance Call
S.O.S. In Bel Air
The Real Thing
Trying To Be Cool